When the White House released the erroneous fact that President Obama would be the first President since John F. Kennedy to visit Puerto Rico, CNN, NPR and others accepted it as fact and began reporting it. Without checking the White House’s spin, many media organizations highlighted Obama’s visit and failed to find that the White House was wrong – President Gerald Ford had visited Puerto Rico in 1976 and was the last president to do so. While many outlets reported the error, CNN and NPR repeated it and failed to correct the mistake while highlighting the trip.
National Public Radio used the erroneous statistic to develop a stand-alone story, highlight its significance for Puerto Rican Americans and give President Obama accolades for his commitment to the island. NPR host Melissa Block introduced the piece titled, “Why is Obama Going to Puerto Rico”, by stressing “what Obama’s visit means to a growing Puerto Rican population — and his re-election efforts.” Block interviewed Frances Robles, correspondent with the Miami Herald, from Puerto Rico who also emphasized the historic visit. When Robles confronted the White House and NPR’s error at the top of her interview, Block failed to acknowledge it. Block never corrected
NPR’s error even when challenged. In subsequent news updates, NPR repeated the White House’s factual blunder despite online fact checkers highlighting it.
CNN also failed to investigate the White House’s claim and even ignored a plethora of online corrections from various reporters and fact-checkers who caught the White House spin early on. Shortly after the White House press release highlighting the President’s trip, bloggers found that not only had President Ford visited Puerto Rico in 1976, but President Lyndon B. Johnson visited the island in 1968. The White House had failed to notice.
And so did CNN. For 24 hours after the White House’s false claim, CNN failed to question it. CNN took Obama’s arrival in Puerto Rico live with the headline “Obama in Puerto Rico. First presidential visit since JFK 50 years ago”. Host Suzanne Malveaux hyped the trip with pronouncements like, “(Obama) fulfilled his promise to come back” and “There’s a lot of excitement about the trip” and “more than 4 million Puerto Ricans live on the mainland” and “This is an historic trip for Obama”. All pitches built around an error that CNN failed to check or correct. The mistake could have been chalked up to one big error if “the best political team on television” wasn’t so Johnny on the spot with fact-checking Palin, Boehner, Bush, Romney, Ryan, Gingrich, etc. For example, shortly after her Puerto Rico error, Malveaux interviewed Angie Holan
from The St. Petersburg Times in a segment titled “Checking The Truth-O-Meter” where the two questioned the accuracy of claims made by Republicans at the presidential debate in New Hampshire last night.
While it’s reasonable to conclude that a simple mistake was made by the White House in its initial announcement of Obama’s trip, it’s disturbing to see staffers not correct their error. It’s more troubling to see media outlets like NPR and CNN not only fail to fact-check, but ignore the truth when confronted with it. Both NPR and CNN should correct their mistake and come clean as to how it happened.
Friday night, April 16th, 2010 Jessica Yellin got a chance to sit in for Campbell Brown on CNN’s show “Campbell Brown.” Yellin wasted no time in bringing her partisan political views front and center for the CNN audience to witness firsthand. Yellin brought on for a one-on-one interview the man running for Governor of California – Jerry Brown. In a live performance from the California Democratic Convention in Yellin’s hometown of Los Angeles, Yellin shockingly interviewed Brown and never told the viewers that Jerry Brown is running for Governor of her home state or that he was sitting at the California Democratic Convention in the town where she grew up.
In a cozy conversation, Yellin introduced Brown to CNN as “California’s top law enforcement official” – immediately positioning him as someone more interested in issues than politics even though Brown is in the middle of a hot campaign for Governor. Yellin threw Brown multiple softball questions throughout the interview with not a single follow-up question to Brown’s long diatribes and no interruptions to Brown’s soliloquies. Yellin, who is known for her liberal political views, even trumpeted the Brown campaign’s messages about the assumed Republican opponent, Meg Whitman.
Starting off the interview, Yellin warms up with asking Brown what he thought about the Goldman Sachs’ scandal. Brown quickly proclaimed “regulators let people get away with murder….this is a massive meltdown, the biggest around the world….we are being stymied by federal laws and rules that often block the Attorney Generals from enforcing anti-fraud statues based on state law…this was, you could say fairly, the biggest bank robbery in the history of America.” Yellin just smiled approvingly but didn’t ask a follow-up nor question Brown’s pandering answers. While unbiased journalists may think to question a man running for Governor about why he hasn’t done more to combat the Goldman Sachs type of problem in his current position as Attorney General, or why, as a Democrat, he thinks the Obama Administration has allowed this to happen, Yellin had nothing to say. She had no follow-up question nor did she bother to push back on anything Brown said.
Yellin’s next question was on Sarah Palin. And Yellin didn’t miss the chance to declare the Democrats talking point in her question: “You are investigating a California school that invited her to speak but then wouldn’t disclose the terms of her contract….why does this merit the attention of the AG?” As Brown went on and on about how “we want to make sure that charitable foundations do what the rules require” and wondered “is the foundation connected with this state college following the rules of charitable trusts?”, Yellin once again let Brown talk without interruption or a single follow-up question. While an unbiased journalist, interviewing a man running for Governor of California, may have wanted to ask Brown WHY he suddenly started his new campaign to rid charitable foundations of financial abuse just this week with a Republican star like Sarah Palin, Yellin just smiled and moved on to the next topic – Meg Whitman.
In a casual and flippant comment, Yellin referred to the man she first introduced as “the top law enforcement official in California” as having an interest in the Governor’s race when she oddly said, “Let me turn to another focus of your attention these days – the Governor’s race. Your likely Republican opponent…has already pumped a remarkable $59 million of her own money into this race, she’s vowing to spend so much more….How do you build momentum against her at this point?”
It was a moment that the Brown campaign couldn’t have orchestrated better. Yellin positioned Brown as the non-politician, asked him questions on easy topics, allowed him to speak without challenge, messaged Meg Whitman as a wealthy politician whose spending “so much” of her own money and characterized Brown as an underdog. Yellin went on to hammer home the Brown message that Whitman is “pumping” millions of dollars of her own money into the race and is “attacking” her opponents. It was a television moment that made all of Jessica Yellin’s friends at the Democratic State Convention in her home state of California cheer as they watched the interview from the Convention in LA.
Yellin gave Brown free air time to talk about…the importance of going to the people, and that the race is really dead-even, and how 1.9 million jobs were created the last time he was Governor, how strongly committed he is to getting our economy better, to protecting the environment and fixing our schools. Brown continued with a claim that Whitman is a billionaire trying to buy the race and that she’s never even voted. And Yellin sat quietly, pleased with her Governor’s answers. Not surprisingly, no follow up questions from Yellin.
Yellin wasn’t done yet. After playing some of the Whitman commercials which Yellin labeled “attack ads”, she asked, “how do you plan to go up against attacks like that when they come your way?” It was a question the Brown campaign had hoped she would ask by labeling Whitman an attacker and positioning Brown as the David to the oncoming Goliath. Brown said, “Making stuff up about the opponent is silly….” And there was no response from Yellin.
As they wrapped up their comfy chat and said good-bye, Yellin couldn’t help herself and blurted out, “Thanks Mr. Attorney General, I always enjoy talking with you….” Mr. Attorney General? For heaven’s sake, Jessica, he’s running for Governor and you are a journalist – can’t you even fake it?
It was an interview that the Whitman campaign should complain to CNN about and ask CNN to report to the FEC as an in-kind contribution to the Brown campaign. It was outrageous and Yellin should be barred from conducting her style of journalism on California political races ever again.
Rick Sanchez’s Show claims ‘technical difficulties’ in getting GOP Healthcare response.
The day after the federal government hijacked 1/5 of the U.S. economy in order to give health insurance to unemployed 26 year olds was a giddy day for CNN’s Rick Sanchez. The 3pm EST host for the supposed cable news network in the middle couldn’t hold back his excitement for the healthcare hijack that had just taken place in Washington.
Sanchez gave us 25 minutes of non-stop gloating from supporters of the healthcare take-over. Sanchez gave us Obama, Biden, Pelosi, more Obama, Biden’s over-the-top and profane characterization that this is a really big deal, more Obama, Ted Kennedy’s widow telling us this is a really big deal, more Obama and a really long pen-signing ceremony to celebrate the occasion. We also got some yucking-it-up moments from Democratic members of Congress telling the President they had cast some tough votes on a really big issue. Then Sanchez gave us Analysis 101 with David Gergen and another reporter conversing with him on how the Republicans keep talking about over-turning the legislation but the reality is they won’t be able to do it. Sanchez assured us that he knew it was all talk – and that it couldn’t be done. When Gergen tried to bring up the fact that public opinion was on the Republicans’ side as evident by the most recent poll showing a large number of Americans were not pleased with the takeover, Sanchez jumped in to say that in his humble opinion “We shouldn’t even be talking about that poll because it was taken before the vote”. Huh? Why would that matter? Americans don’t want this healthcare hijack and all the pushing by Sanchez that this is a really big deal won’t change their minds. We know it’s a really big deal and that’s why we’re mad!
And then, 25 minutes into Sanchez’s show he tells us that in an effort to be fair, we will soon be hearing from the Republicans “to get their take” on the healthcare hijack. But after the obligatory commercial break, Sanchez tells us that we won’t be able to hear from the Republicans right now because CNN has a technical problem. Seriously? There is only one computer satellite available for the Republicans’ response in all of CNN? It’s hard to believe but Sanchez assured us it was true. After several minutes and several other non-stories, Sanchez tells us that we will get GOP reaction, “If we get the computer fixed “. And then Sanchez starts laughing in an obvious ‘I don’t care’ kind of way. “It’s not like it’s our fault, it’s a technical difficulty,” he tries to explain with a smirk on his face.
Whatever excuse Rick Sanchez comes up with, the simple fact is that his show had no Republican response 35 minutes into it on the day after the “really big deal” healthcare vote. For more than 35 minutes, Sanchez orchestrated a liberal diatribe in support of the bill.
When CNN finally “fixed” the technical problems, Sanchez’s highly anticipated GOP response turned out to be a twitter review of tweets from 6 members of Congress over the last 24 hours. The 6 tweets highlighted by Sanchez, trumpeted as CNN’s Republican response, weren’t from Republicans afterall. The first three tweets highlighted were from Democratic Senator Udall, Democratic Senator Specter and White House Spokesman Robert Gibbs. The last 3 tweets were from Republicans – Price, Jenkins and Meghan McCain. Hardly a GOP response. And hardly a show worth watching.
CNN ran an op-ed by Richard Grenell of the USC Annenberg School about the challenges President Obama faces. “President Obama is in a unique position these days. As a Democratic president of the United States, he has a House of Representatives with 258 Democrats and only 177 Republicans and a Senate with 58 Democrats and only 40 Republicans,” Grenell wrote. “Obama is laying out a new Afghanistan policy and will be able to count on the Republicans to make sure it is funded. While members of the president’s own party were working to delay and stop his decision, the minority party is giving the president the support he needs.”
imagine what would have happened had the mccain campaign tossed off the plane the new york times reporter or the cnn reporter? (see story below). conservatives know how to deal with bias media because we have been up against the liberal media machine for years.
the obama campaign should point out the hypocrisies of the media when they don’t feel like they are getting a fair shake – but they shouldn’t exclude them.
all media is bias in some way, so we must give equal accesss to everyone but hold them accountable when they are not fair.
PURGE: SKEPTICAL REPORTERS TOSSED OFF OBAMA PLANE
Fri Oct 31 2008 08:39:55 ET
The Obama campaign has decided to heave out three newspapers from its plane for the final days of its blitz across battleground states — and all three endorsed Sen. John McCain for president! The NY POST, WASHINGTON TIMES and DALLAS MORNING NEWS have all been told to move out by Sunday to make room for network bigwigs — and possibly for the inclusion of reporters from two black magazines, ESSENCE and JET, the DRUDGE REPORT has learned. Despite pleas from top editors of the three newspapers that have covered the campaign for months at extraordinary cost, the Obama campaign says their reporters — and possibly others — will have to vacate their coveted seats so more power players can document the final days of Sen. Barack Obama’s historic campaign to become the first black American president. MORE Some told the DRUDGE REPORT that the reporters are being ousted to bring on documentary film-makers to record the final days; others expect to see on board more sympathetic members of the media, including the NY TIMES’ Maureen Dowd, who once complained that she was barred from McCain’s Straight Talk Express airplane. After a week of quiet but desperate behind-the-scenes negotiations, the reporters of the three papers heard last night that they were definitely off for the final swing. They are already planning how to cover the final days by flying commercial or driving from event to event.
within the first few minutes of palin’s speech my phone started to light up with text messages. i could instantly tell that my liberal friends (and there are many) were nervous. palin the future president and next vice-presient of the united states had something to say. the messages started with simple admitions like “she’s doing well”. as the humored filled speech unfolded my text messages increased. “she’s doing well” became “wow”. the evening ended with scared muses and hostile phrases like “we still have 2 more months” and “but how many hockey moms could there actually be in america”. the liberals were scared.
how could one speech completely change their mind and make them go from laughing at palin to fearing her? palin was confident, funny, real and 100% american. their whiplash over the last 48 hours was made more evident by the media’s simplicity and their group think about palin. wolff blitzer’s bias came out like i’ve never seen…..he and cnn gambled that palin was going down so they piled on her all day over the last several days. they questioned the “vetting process” and her qualifications – they decided she wasn’t up to the job. they reported on each other reporting about the rumors. it was a media circus made for cnn television. as US Weekly stories became worthy of political commentating, the frenzy about palin’s pro-life stance became straight-faced diatribes that questioned her parental skills. grown feminists were asking if a woman with young children should be able to be VP. it was totally out of hand and the liberals were living in their own world as wolff kept talking. was this the party of hillary? nope, it was the new democratic party of obama where the radical left is in control.
enter palin – the hockey mom and beauty queen knows what to do when her enemies are distracted by their own frenzy. she clearly knows how to take the pressure. but the media actually helped palin out. they lowered expectations for themselves and their viewers and forced a “crisis” for mccain. reading the graphics on cnn and msnbc earlier this morning led viewers to believe there was a crisis. my liberal friends were ecstatic: “she’s a joke” one said. liberals and their media friends had decided that palin wasn’t qualified to be a mom let alone the next VP. the media fed itself – every outlet trying to pile on even more – with little individual reporting. reporters told me that palin would be out by friday.
but palin came on strong and proved that small town american values are not hokey. she showed that her sound judgement and real world experience had more in common with regular people than obama’s radical left. she gave voice to the parents of special needs children, economically struggling families, women who work because they have to, career women who choose to work, parents who don’t miss their children’s sporting events and rural america. she demonstrated that her appeal should not be underestimated as it was over the last couple of days. she proved you can be simple and strong, loving and ready to fight, a woman and a proud republican. as the east coast media elites and their liberal friends try and dismiss her as unqualified, palin proved she understands america more than obama. she is proud of her country even as she tries to improve it. and at the end of the day, she proved that her selection not only energized the base of the republican voters but extended a hand to the independents too.
the same reporter who first told me that “she’d be toast by friday” told me after tonight’s speech that obama must be wishing that mccain had picked pawlenty.
what a country!